. Sunday, July 14, 2019 .

If you recently become interested in learning a language, you may be surprised when I tell you that Instagram can be a great tool to help you study new words in a visual way. If you are the type of learner that likes to see pictures and word associations, Instagram can be a great resource for finding new words in context and building a small community of language learners.

A few weeks ago I started a Japanese language learning Instagram account called @japanesewith alice. I made this account specifically to document my progress studying for the JLPT N2. I regretfully do not have a lot of old notebooks or papers from when I first started learning Japanese and so I wanted a way to track the progress I'll be making as I prepare for this exam.

I also use my Instagram story as a daily resource for posting the points I get on Memrise while doing reviews and learning new words.

Here's how I use Instagram to study Japanese (this could be adapted to fit any language)

Create content in your target language

When I learn new words on Memrise, I like to take a view of the words and make some visual content with them for my Instagram. I'm trying to get into the habit of taking photos of my study sessions as well as use the caption of each photo to use my target language.

Follow those who speak your target language natively

I don't follow very many accounts on Instagram in Japanese as of current. I try to follow content that is both interesting to me and simplistic enough that I can pick up vocabulary words in context without using a dictionary to look things up. 

Essentially, whatever your interests are in your native language can be used as learning points in your target language. If you enjoy fashion or nail art, try to look up those things using your target language as a hashtag and see what accounts you can follow.

Follow those who are learning your target language

In the same way, you should definitely be following other people that are alerting your target language to form a sort of community on Instagram.

The more friends you have, the more motivation to work on your Instagram and make more posts about language learning! It's especially fun and rare when you come across an account that is at a similar learning point in your target language.

Use the hashtag #langexchange or #languageexchange to find others that may be interested in learning your native language.

Use Instagram Stories 

There is some daily content that you may be able to post on Instagram stories that can help motivate you and keep your followers engaged, and that is an Instagram Story! Instead of making a post every day, I use Instagram stories keep track of my daily flashcard review progress so that I can say that all my reviews are done and semi-brag about the streak that I'm keeping. 

I like to hashtag these posts with whatever app I'm using for flashcards (Memrise) so other people using Memrise can add me! If you're lucky, the developer of the app might even like or repost your story.

Use Hashtags

In order to gain visibility for your page, you're going to need to put some hashtags on your photos. These allow Instagram users to find the content you're making. If someone is interested in looking at vocabulary lists and you've just created one, make sure you hashtag your post with #vocabularylist or #Xlanguagevocabularylist. 

If you're preparing for an exam, include the name of it as well! 

Here's a list of hashtags find useful for making future posts (feel free to swap the word Japanese for your language's name):


I hope these tips are helpful! If you have any Instagram accounts in Japanese to recommend, I'd love to hear about them in the comments. As always, thanks for reading :)

. Wednesday, July 3, 2019 .

If you been with me on my blog since the very beginning you may remember the kanji challenge that I did about two summers ago. 

If you're clicking away to go back and check I have some bad news for you: All of that Kanji challenge has been removed from my blog, For some reason I can't really remember, the summer after I completed the challenge I removed all of the posts that I used to track my progress and included scans of the kanji book itself.

As I'm currently preparing to take the JLPT N2 in December, I was wondering what methods I could use to best study kanji. When I did this kanji challenge I created two summers ago I learned about 200 kanji within that time frame and I can say to this day that I still know them! With that in mind, I was considering whether or not I should do this challenge again since my method was really effective for me and help me learn a good amount of kanji relatively quickly.

You may have noticed that I have not been updating my blog as frequently as I used to and that's mainly because I'm struggling with ways to come up with content that I feel is both interesting to me and to other people. I hope that restarting the series will help me not only start posting on this blog a bit more but also provide a new resource to someone who's looking for an alternative way of learning kanji. 

As I was writing this post I tried to find my original kanji journal to share some scans of what I was learning two summers ago. However, since I've been back from college, a lot of items that I have been looking for have kind of been misplaced (by me!). If I can find the journal I would LOVE to use it again and continue my progress with it, but I have a feeling it's not going to turn up.

Luckily, I do have a few scans I found in my google photos! 

This is the Kanji Sheet creator I used to use.

This is how my journal looked!

The Concept

This post is mostly going to be an explanation of the kanji Challenge and how you can do it. I'm going to be listing methods, resources, and things you may need to know if you want to attempt this with me. 

You will need:

  • A dedicated Kanji Notebook
  • A printer
  • A pen or pencil
  • Access to the kanji you'd like to learn (more on this soon)

This may sound strange but this kanji challenge is taking place in a physical notebook. I know a lot of people learn online these days but I found that having a physical manifestation of everything that you've studied really helps connect knowledge. 

When I first did this challenge I created a list of kanji and put them into a stroke order identifier website. I then created a document with images of all the kanji and printed it out, cutting and pasting it into the notebook with a couple of words written on the side that use that kanji. 

I'm not going to lie it was pretty labor-intensive and I did it every single week. 

The website that I used at the time to make my kanji sheets now non-existent. I checked the website and it's been transformed into a manga site? I think. Instead, I'm trying an alternative method! http://jensechu.github.io/kanji/ has a database of JLPT kanji that you can access that automatically inputs present information into the cell. You can also search up kanji you may want to add. 

You need a printer because we are going to be printing out the sheets that we create using this website. I'm debating whether or not use the cut and paste method for putting it into my journal, but I think that's something we can work on in the next post.

I'm going to be using the preset JLPT kanji that are provided on the site, but if you have some kind of alternative site or perhaps an Anki deck that you want to put into this sheet format feel free to do so! I'm going to take a look at the Kanji they have listed staring with N3 kanji. If I do not feel 100 percent confident with them, I will add them to my study list.

If this challenge works out well, by December I should be halfway done with N2 Kanji!

I don't expect to reach full completion simply because there are so many words, so I'm trying to set a reachable goal :)

Essentially this method works for me because it explores different avenues of memorizing the kanji. First, you have to look up the kanji and print it out on the sheet. Then you do the practice sheet and fill it in. Next, you work on transferring that information into your journal. This creates a "study scrapbook", you could say! 

Lastly, you use your SRS or material to review the kanji on a daily basis for 1 week. I will be using the app Kanji Study (click here to read my review on it!). If you use any kind of SRS system or flash card type of thing don't worry about getting this app! All that matters is that you are engaging with the kanji that you set out to learn that week!

The amount of kanji that you choose to do every week is completely up to you. I think I did something between 10 and 15 kanji a week? This is just for me personally but at the end of every week, I would go to my printer and scan the sheets that I did, as well as my journal pages, to upload on my blog and show everyone what I did. When I did that it gave me a chance to look over my notes as well :)

I realize that when I write it out like this it may seem pretty intense. Some will say there are better methods for learning kanji but this one really stuck with me. Two years after the fact I STILL know all of the kanji quite well and that's what really matters!

Whether you are doing this challenge with me or just reading along, as always: thank you for reading :)

. Monday, May 27, 2019 .

I've been living the postgraduate life for about a week now, which means things are slowing down and hopefully blog posts are coming sooner. 

My boyfriend asked me this morning why I hadn't made a blog post about graduation and I sat there dumbfounded. In all honesty... I hadn't even thought to talk about it.

On the 'feeling' of graduating

I can't really describe what it's like to be out of college because it doesn't feel like school is really over. I admit that when I walked across that huge stage to get my "diploma", I did feel a sense of finality and that things in college were coming to an end. I also admit that when I moved out of my dorm it did feel a little different than years previous because I had this weird feeling that I wouldn't be coming back. 

However, this feeling was something that I had to constantly remind myself about. I felt like I was making myself sad when really I had no emotions going through me at all. I kept telling myself 'You should be sad right now. You should be paying attention to what's going on. You should be remembering every second you have left."  I was numb to the graduation hysteria, up until I said goodbye to my friends. 

I found myself sitting in the car, watching the buildings of my university disappear as we drove away and thinking that I should remember this moment because I'm never going to come back. 

Now I know never is a strong word because I'm probably going to be back sometime for reunions or other occasions but all in all, I will never be on campus the same way that I was as an undergrad. Confronting that fact alone is something that both relieves me and scares me. 

The week before graduation, time was crawling. No one knew what was going on, I had no finals to do, and most days were spent lazing on the couch or playing Sims 4 in the common room. Our rooms were half packed and in a state of disarray, and our fridge is getting gradually more empty as we ate the foods we liked and left behind ones we didn't. 

It felt like things were winding down but the tail end of school came faster than anything I've ever experienced. On Friday we were relaxing in our apartment and Saturday evening we were preparing our goodbyes as we stepped halfway out the door. 

On living at home

Now that I'm back home living with my parent's things are a lot different than when I lived on my own. 

I'm sure any college graduate that has moved back in with their parents can tell you that adjusting from operating on your schedule to operating on your parent's schedule is a pretty big change. 

You lose that freedom that you had at school and you have to figure out how to be an adult in a space where your parents are also adults (though they may not treat you as such). 

The biggest emotional hurdle I encountered when moving back home was sitting in my childhood room with bags and boxes from my previous apartment that I now had no place for. I knew a major rehaul was in order. That day, I sifted through everything I owned from the time I was born up until my shopping trip last week.  I got rid of a lot of stuff that I tried to hold onto for sentimental reasons, which was hard. 

I realized that I had been using this room as a space to hold old memories, not as space I could actually live in post-graduation, so I took a few hours out of my day to do some cleaning discarding and donating. With all that done, my childhood sleep space became my adult workspace.

On jobs

For those who have been blessed with a job starting right after graduation, life may be a little bit different for you than it is for me. 

I received a summer position that doesn't start until July so I have a lot more free time than I expected. 

Right now I'm just trying to form new healthy routines, like working out and studying for the JLPT N2 that I might be taking in December. 

In a way, I'm kind of afraid for the end of the summer "vacation" because once the fall comes around my adult life is starting and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm sure every person has this moment in their life where they have to come to terms with changing and growing up, but I never considered how I would feel when it happened to me. 

To all the graduates out there, you did it! I'd love to hear your thoughts about this topic and as always thanks for reading :)

. Monday, April 29, 2019 .

This post comes at a very ironic time. 

If you look, the post previous to this one is talking about all the beauty and makeup items that I purchased at Whole Foods during their big sale. This was a fairly easy post to write, and I had it all written up within a day. However, after I published it I struggled to find something that I could publish after. Publishing a post about buying things during a sale made me feel like I should follow up with more hauls or more reviews about the products that I purchased. 

In the quest for inspiration for my next post, I had been watching some YouTube videos based on what was recommended to me and I came across a video about consumerism. I'm no stranger to the concepts of minimalism and the Marie Kondo crazy of 'tidying up', and I agree with the movements that proclaim you should reduce the items you have. I admit I go through obsessive phases of cleaning where I minimalize my room as much as possible, but I always get caught up with items that are sentimental. 

I fear I will need these things later so I continue to hang onto them. The problem with this is that, when I hang onto these items, I bury them away in a place where I cannot access them so when the time comes where I may actually need to use them I instead go out and buy more. 

When you buy more you never just buy what you stepped into the store to get. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this experience: You go into a grocery store or a clothing store looking for one thing and walk out with five different things. At that moment it feels awesome to get a bunch of new things to bring home but once you actually add these things to your collection of stuff, the novelty of buying and spending money wears off. We accumulate more items we think we "have to have" to scratch the consumerist itch, and yet we are never satisfied and plan to buy more the next day. 

I was caught in this cycle. Back at the end of 2018, I spent about $400 on what I called a "Professional Wardrobe" from Zara because I thought I needed more clothes. I looked up what other young professionals were wearing, made a list of clothes I needed to have to get "the look" and headed out. I ended up returning about $100 worth of those items because I didn't really like them and as I sit here today I have two $40 pairs of shoes that are staring at me from across the room, sitting in my donation bin. I don't wear them and I honestly don't like them, but at the time I really felt like I needed them. 

Buying these items may have quenched my thirst for new things at the time, but it didn't stop me from wanting more and more. As someone who loves internet shopping, it gets to a point where you're sitting there after browsing page after page of results and think: "What is the point of this?. 

Sometimes a bigger question arises: "Who am I doing this for?" 

I have an unpublished post about minimalism that I wrote 6 months ago sitting in my blog drafts. I went into an in-depth analysis of who minimalism caters to in society and did some commentary about how trendy being minimalist has become. I believe those who practice minimalism have the privilege to do so, as they have all their basic necessities, and that it can be used as a tool to combat consumerism. 

I'm blessed to have things such as food, shelter, education and a small amount of savings. I'm blessed to be healthy and happy. These are things that cannot be obtained by simply having more stuff. Getting a new shirt will only make me happy temporarily. 

I'm struggling to get through all the beauty and makeup products I purchased from Whole Foods because there's just too much. At the time, when everyone was waiting on line to buy it, I convinced myself that I needed it, but in reality, I now have so much excess that I find myself going out of my way to actively use these products just to use them up! 

These two beauty bags sit on my desk, a constant reminder of the valuable lesson I've learned regarding our obsession with buying more and more and it's given me some ideas about how I want to treat the things I acquire going forward. 

So if you've made it this far in the post, here are some small things you can do to avoid overshopping:

  • Make a detailed list of what you need before you go into the store. If you need a new pair of jeans because your old ones are falling apart at the seams, just buy jeans. 
  • Have a budget. Tell yourself you will only spend $X amount for X item. 
  • Get things secondhand. Scour the internet for things you can use that have been gently used previously, or stuff you can upcycle!

I know this subject is hotly debated and this post may come off as a rant of sorts but I definitely wanted to share my feelings about this especially since I'm just beginning to gain so much knowledge. As always, thanks for reading :)

. Wednesday, March 27, 2019 .

In case you haven't heard, Whole Foods is having a major beauty blowout as we speak. If you buy select products from the Whole Body aisle any time from today, March 27th to April 2nd, you will receive 25 percent off! Some of the products on sale include shampoo, conditioner, hair dye, skincare, and makeup! Even better news, if you are an Amazon prime member you can receive an extra 10 percent off your entire purchase.

On Friday March 29th Whole Foods will give away free beauty goodie bags to the first 200 people in store, so wake up bright and early and be there at 8 am to collect!

Since I work at Whole Foods I have the special added bonus of an additional 20 percent off my purchase, which was great news for my wallet. I went a little product crazy while in the aisle, dumping anything I saw under 10 dollars into my pre-sale bag, but in the end, I walked away with 7 items I'm really excited about. 

I decided to stick to skin care products and didn't end up picking out any hair care products since I'm well supplied in that department. I usually buy all my skincare from LUSH, which ends up being a pretty expensive ordeal, so I'm actively looking for more affordable alternatives to some of my LUSH favorites. (I'm talking about you Ultrabland!)

Acure: Brightening Day Cream & Acure Seriously Soothing Blue Tansy Night Oil

I asked for a recommendation about sensitive skin care, and I was directed to this brand by one of the Whole Body associates. I currently don't have a serum in my face care regime so I was really into this Blue Tansy Night Oil. I tried a bit on my hand and the serum itself is actually a light blue color and had a lightly floral scent. I don't like when my skincare smells too strongly, and both of these products didn't give off to much of a scent. 

I will say that the size is a little small, but it seems like just enough to give these products a fair trial. I'm currently using argan oil in my hair care routine so I thought I might as well bring it into my skin care as well!

Andalou Ultra Sheer Daily Defense Lotion

The current lotion I use is a Gold Bond oatmeal infused eczema treatment, and while it has done wonders for my face, I feel like it's a little heavy and waxy for daytime wear. I wanted to pick up a lotion that I can use as a primer for my makeup, as well as be protected from the sun with some kind of SPF. This ultra sheet lotion from Andalou fit that bill exactly, I can't wait to try it out.

Yesto Energizing Coffee 2-in-1 Scrub & Cleanser Stick

I actually had this product on my Amazon wishlist! It was recommended in a recent Buzzfeed community post about skincare, along with some other budget-friendly products. I'm really interested in the 'energizing' claim, and to see if it actually works!

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

I have heard AMAZING things about this clay! If you search it up on Amazon there are hundreds of 5-star reviews saying this saved their skin. I don't have acne, but I do have a lot of hyperpigmentation and redness around my T-Zone. I opened it up to see what the clay looked like, and to my surprise, the clay is actually a fine grey powder. Tip: Mix this with Apple Cider Vinegar for boosted effectiveness!

365 Cleansing Micellar Water

I currently use LUSH's Ultrabland to remove my makeup. I've tried a lot of different makeup removal techniques but they have all been really drying on my skin, so I'm hoping this micellar water can become a cheaper alternative (~$7) to the money I spend every 2 or 3 months buying replacement Ultrabland ($30). 

Yesto Detoxifying Charcoal Cleanser

Another Yesto product! I poured a little out of the bottle to test the consistency and it seemed a little gel-like, but I'm hoping that means it's not going to be too harsh on my skin. Charcoal tends to be very drying but it's really useful when it comes to removing blackheads!

Air Wrapping Mask Brightening Skullcap

I saw that there was a 5 for $10 deal for these masks so I picked some up! However, it should be noted that it's only 5 for $10 if you pick out 5 of the same kind of mask. Since I picked out different versions of the mask I did not receive the deal, which I didn't know! I don't use face masks in the weekly skin care regime, partly because I don't like buying single-use products, but I'm willing to give these a try!

I'm excited to get my beauty bag on Friday and see what I get, but overall I think I got a pretty good haul from the blowout sale alone. If you're in need of some skincare and happen to have an Amazon Prime account, it could be a great investment! Thanks for reading~